The United Kingdom has made the decision to stop teaching some of the most controversial events in world history. The United Kingdom’s government has made the decision, based on research, to eliminate history lessons involving the Holocaust and the Crusades. The research showed many of Britain’s teachers felt it was offensive to teach such history in an area where there is a high number of minority Muslims.
The United Kingdom has compared the level of offense to Muslims with the reactions many white students feel about slavery being taught in the United States. The United Kingdom feels teaching such controversial topics can leave students feeling alienated and offended. The government believes this is the way many of the white and black students of the United States feel when slavery is taught.
It has been reported that some of the United Kingdom’s teachers chose to drop all lessons about the Holocaust completely out of fear that the Muslim students might choose to express their ideas in an anti-Semitic fashion. One British school decided teaching the Crusades would cause conflict between the non-Muslims and the Muslims. The main reason for eliminating the Crusades was that it would contradict what the mosques are teaching the children.
The United Kingdom Department for Education and Skills released a report. In the report, the following statement was given as to why the decision was made, “Teachers and schools avoid emotive and controversial history for a variety of reasons, some of which are well-intentioned. Staff may wish to avoid causing offence or appearing insensitive to individuals or groups in their classes. In particular settings, teachers of history are unwilling to challenge highly contentious or charged versions of history in which pupils are steeped at home, in their community, or in a place of worship.”
As part of the report, the researches displayed an example of a history department in a secondary school in the northern region of the United Kingdom that had decided to teach the Holocaust. This school made it necessary for students to graduate without having to learn about this part of the Jewish history. According the research reports, teachers are fearful of the possibility of confronting “anti-Semitic sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim students.”
At another school, parents of those students who practice Christianity are outraged at how the Arab-Israeli conflict has been taught. The report sated, “In another department, the Holocaust was taught despite anti-Semitic sentiment among some pupils, but the same department deliberately avoided teaching the Crusades (for middle school students) because their balanced treatment of the topic would have directly challenged what was taught in some local mosques.”
The study also concluded that too many teachers were playing it safe. The report stated teachers should receive better training to learn how to handle teaching controversial topics. The report said other issues, charged by emotion, have been taught in a bland manner, falsely portraying the Afro-Caribbean people as the central victim and ignoring the black pupils. The report also found teachers were down-playing the role of white authorities in the abolition of the slave trade, thus leaving the white students feeling alienated.
This report was released around the time when Britain will mark the 200 year anniversary of the end of the transatlantic slave trade. It was 200 years when laws were passed in the United Kingdom making it illegal to participate in slavery. The anniversary sparked heated protests and high demands for the government to issue a formal apology for the country’s role in the slave trade.
Earlier in 2007, a government review of citizenship education believed all pupils should learn about controversial issues, such as slavery and the Holocaust. The British government believes children should be allowed to develop their own sense of identity within the British society. The government believes if children are allowed to create their own identity there would be less social divisions between the various groups.
Telegraph Media Group Limited